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Australia - 10-13 Sep 15

Posted: September 11, 2015 10:14 AM - 3049 Hits

Round 10 - 2015 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Australia 2015) Also available at: rally-base results
Radio: WRC All Live Audio Stream
News: www.wrc.com
Event Website: Rally Australia

First stage each day - Irish/UK Times
SS1 Thu - 23:18
SS9 Sat - 01:18
SS13 Sat - 22:58

MADS OSTBERG REPLACED BY STEPHANE LEFEBVRE

Posted: September 9, 2015 5:30 PM

Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson have never made such a bad start to a rally, after becoming involved in a road accident during the first day of recce. "We collided head on with a truck, which was also driving on the wrong side of the gravel road," explained the Norwegian driver. "We simply couldn't avoid it. Fortunately, the car's safety features did their job."

With two cracked ribs for Mads and extensive bruising for Jonas, the crew has nonetheless had to pull out of Rally Australia. "We tried to continue with recce, but it would be impossible for us to compete properly and safely in the rally. We have therefore pulled out on the grounds of force majeure. We're very disappointed, because we believed we would be competitive and could fight to regain third place in the Drivers' World Championship."

Having flown out to Australia to take part in recce for the event as preparation for a future appearance here, Stephane Lefebvre and Stephane Prevot have been unsurprisingly chosen by Citroen Racing to take part in Rally Australia in the no.4 DS 3 WRC.

"First and foremost, the entire team is very disappointed for Mads and Jonas. They had the motivation and the potential to secure a very good result on this surface," commented Marek Nawarecki, Deputy Team Principal, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. "When it became clear that they would have to pull out, we decided to maintain the entry of the no.4 DS 3 WRC, entrusting it to Stephane Lefebvre et Stephane Prevot. Without any pre-event preparation, we are not expecting him to be competitive. But it will be another opportunity for him to learn about rallying at this level. We'll be asking him to finish the rally to score some points in the Manufacturers? World Championship."

"I feel very sorry for Mads and Jonas, because we're all part of a big family at Citroen Racing. I hope they'll be back to full fitness very quickly," added Stephane Lefebvre. "I have never driven the DS 3 WRC on gravel so I'm expecting it to be a tough weekend. Ordinarily, I prepare for a rally several weeks in advance by watching on-board camera footage from previous years to get a feel for the stages. I won't be able to do that here, but all experience is welcome and I'm grateful to Citroen Racing for having put their faith in me. I'll be treating this first rally with the respect it deserves, to try and meet the target set for me by the team."

Rally Australia begins on Thursday, 10 September with the shakedown from 9.30am local time (GMT+10).

M-SPORT AWAIT AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE

Posted: September 4, 2015 3:24 PM

The new Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC has already proven its pace on gravel, and the team's young squad will be looking to utilise that as they build experience of an event on which they have relatively little experience.

Nestled on the Gold Coast between Brisbane and Sydney, this picturesque setting masks a more sinister side. The route combines fast, flowing roads with tighter, twistier sections that require total concentration.

Shire roads are lined with trees that threaten any competitor who dares to venture even slightly off line and the low angle of the sun can create a strobe effect through the forests - all of which make precise pacenotes of vital importance.

Both M-Sport drivers had their first taste of the Australian stages last year - Evans at the wheel of the Fiesta RS WRC and Tanak with the Ford Fiesta R5 - but that didn't stop them hinting at the potential they could produce in years to come.

Evans improved his pace significantly over the course of last year's event - posting a fourth fastest time to challenge the leaders on the final day - and will be looking to build on that performance this year.
The Welshman - who is partnered by co-driver Daniel Barritt - is determined to showcase his progression on gravel; and if they can get into a good rhythm from the off, the Brits have the potential to spring a few surprises next week.

Tanak's one and only experience of the Australian stages came as part of the WRC's premier support series last year. The Estonian displayed impressive pace and outperformed a number his WRC rivals on several stages.

Partnered by compatriot co-driver Raigo Molder, Tanak has the speed to exceed expectations on what will be his 50th appearance in the WRC. His limited experience won't deter him and he'll be looking to challenge for a strong result as the championship returns to his preferred surface.

Elfyn Evans said:

"I'm looking forward to getting back to gravel. We've had a few loose-surface events in the new car and I want to continue the progression we've shown so far.

"It's a nice event for a driver as the stages and scenery are incredible. The biggest challenge is the visibility. Sometimes we can be hampered by hanging dust and when the sun is low it can create a strobe effect through the trees which makes it difficult to read the road. You need to have complete confidence in your notes to do well.

"I experienced Rally Australia for the first time 12 months ago and I want to improve on that performance this year. Now that we're almost up to speed we're always looking to challenge for the podium, but I know that there will be a lot of drivers pushing for the top positions next week. If we can finish in the top-five, I think that would be a strong result given our limited experience."

Ott Tanak said:

"It's a nice feeling to be heading back to gravel. It's a more familiar surface for me and we know that we can be competitive so I'm looking forward to it.

"I've only done this event once before and that was with a [Ford] Fiesta R5 but that doesn't really change my approach. Of course it means that it will be one of the more challenging events for me and Raigo [Molder, co-driver], but the stages are fast and smooth which should suit us. If we can have a good recce, then I'm sure we'll be ready for it.

"The biggest challenge coming to Australia is how different it is. The nature and even the stages themselves are very different to anything else we experience throughout the year. The gravel is almost red in colour and the forests can cast some very unfamiliar shadows so you have to drive to your notes and have complete confidence in them.

"It's difficult to say how competitive we will be having never driven a world rally car at this event, but I definitely want to be competitive and the top-five is the minimum we'll be aiming for."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

"This is an event that holds a lot of special memories for the team. We have historically performed well on the Australian stages, but we also need to remember that neither driver has a lot of experience when it comes to this event.

"Both drivers experienced the Australian stages for the first time last year, and Ott [Tanak] has never driven a world rally car here. That said, we know that they and the car have the pace. If they can find a good rhythm early on, a strong result could well be on the cards."

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS

M-Sport will also run three WRC 2 contenders in Australia - the Ford Fiesta RRCs of Yurii Protasov and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari as well as the Ford Fiesta R5 of local hero Scott Pedder.

THE PACIFIC AWAITS THE DS 3 WRCS

Posted: September 4, 2015 3:04 PM

More than halfway through its tour of Europe and following two trips to the Americas, the World Championship prepares for the longest journey of the 2015 calendar. On the other side of the world, Oceania is set to host the DS 3 WRCs.

Organised on the Pacific coast, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Rally Australia has been held around Coffs Harbour since 2011. Far removed from its former base in Perth, both in terms of distance and character, this year's event has a very different identity.

Although it is less distinctive in nature than some of the other WRC rounds, the style of Rally Australia boasts a multitude of characteristics. In addition to the dust that covers the roads, the small jumps - which can look like the whoops you get on a motocross track - introduce a degree of vertical lift that must be taken into account when defining the set-up of the cars.

Competitive here last season, the DS 3 WRCs will benefit from the new parts introduced earlier in 2015 and the experience acquired in previous rallies in order to keep on improving. These upgrades will undoubtedly provide an advantage, especially on day two. On Saturday, the crews will have to complete two runs on the very long Nambucca stage (50.80km), as well as taking on Valla II (7.94km) after nightfall, where greater emphasis will be placed on driving skills.

Fourth in the World Rally Championship with three podium finishes on gravel this season, Mads Ostberg remains on a run of twelve consecutive top ten finishes, begun just after the 2014 Rally Australia. The Norwegian will arrive in Coffs Harbour determined to fight at the front.

Leader of the rally last season, Kris Meeke has already shown his potential on the roads of New South Wales. Competitive in 2013 and 2014 in the DS 3 WRC, the Northern Irishman - currently seventh in the Drivers' standings ? will also be looking for a very good result.

As part of the programme implemented this year to support the learning and development of Stephane Lefebvre and his progress towards the top level of the sport, the young French driver will be taking part in recce at Rally Australia. He will be back in competitive action, with his co-driver Stephane Prevot, at the Tour de Corse in a DS 3 WRC.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Yves Matton (Citroen Racing Team Principal): "The aim is to come back from this long trip to Australia with a hatful of points. Both our crews are still free to define and manage their own tactics for the rally. Mads and Kris are motivated, they are very aware that they have real assets available to them and that everything is in place to enable them to achieve good results. At this stage of the season, it is important to score points, both for the Citro?n Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and for our drivers."

Mads Ostberg:""I'm happy to be back on the Australian gravel. It?s a unique surface with a fairly specific character. The profile of the stages change often and sometimes quite dramatically. It's fairly common to switch from very wide roads, which you don?t see very often in the WRC, to much narrower sections. There are also a lot of small jumps which you need to judge carefully in recce so you don?t lose your rhythm in those sections. I feel perfectly prepared for this event and I really want to be among the frontrunners. I have already shown I can be fast in Australia, but it?s the only gravel rally on which I have yet to record a good result. The target is therefore to improve on my performance in previous years and fight for a place on the podium."

Kris Meeke: "I have some very fond memories of my last two appearances at Rally Australia in the DS 3 WRC. I was competitive here in 2013 and 2014, and last season, I was challenging for a podium spot. This year, the itinerary has changed a bit. But the new stages look magnificent and like they will be very fast. Generally speaking, the roads are very interesting although the forest sections, when you get rays of sunshine coming through the trees, can be especially tricky. If the weather stays dry, my starting position should be an advantage. The idea is not to push to the maximum at the start. I have to maintain the pace I have shown in the last few rallies and avoid even making the slightest mistake. If we manage to do that, then along with my starting position for the first two days, we should be well placed."

UPSIDE DOWN BUT WHEELS ON THE GROUND!

In spite of the 17,000 kilometres separating them from Versailles and the eight-hour time difference, the DS 3 WRCs will nonetheless be competing on a largely familiar course. The only entirely new stages all feature at the start of the event. Three brand-new tests will be held in the Nambucca region, widely acclaimed in previous years for its beautiful roads.

After two days of recce, the crews will take on the shakedown on the Olgas Road test (4.98km) on Thursday morning, completing a minimum of three mandatory runs from 8am onwards. The ceremonial start will then get underway in the centre of Coffs Harbour from 4pm.

The rally proper will kick off on Friday morning at 7am. The drivers will set off in championship order to tackle the new stages. With Utungun (7.88km), Bakers Creek (16.75km) and Northbank (29.51km), the start will be new for everyone before the crews tackle the more familiar Newry Long (29.51km), which has been partly altered compared with the last two years. After a midday service at 12.12pm, the loop will be contested a second time in the afternoon. The cars are due back in Coffs Harbour from 5.19pm.

Saturday's programme only features four stages. However, with two runs on Nambucca (50.80km), it nonetheless promises to be a busy day. The crews will set off at 8.40am to reach the rally's longest stage, before tackling Valla (7.94km), which will be broadcast live on television. In the evening, a second run on Valla will be held after nightfall. Two service periods are scheduled, at 1.28pm and 7.30pm respectively.

On Sunday, the P1 crews will set off in the reverse order of the overall standings for the rally. Five stages will be contested with Bucca Long (21.95km), Wedding Bells (9.23km) and Settles Rd (6.40km) held before a 30-minute service, then second runs on Bucca Long and Wedding Bells. The final test, which will also serve as the Power Stage, will be broadcast live on television at 1.08, local time (5.08am in France). The rally is scheduled to finish in Coffs Harbour from 3.00pm.

Match point "down under": Volkswagen on brink of successful World Championship title defence.

Posted: September 4, 2015 2:50 PM

Following the successful Rally Germany on home soil, the Volkswagen Team now heads to the other side of the planet. It does so with three clear goals: the Rally Australia presents the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer with its first opportunity to wrap up all three titles in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the Polo R WRC with races still to come. Should they defend the lead they have established in the Drivers', Co-Drivers' and Manufacturers' championships over the first nine rounds of the season, they would secure victory in all three competitions. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN) and Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (N/N), who claimed a magnificent one-two-three at their recent home event in Germany, could once again make history Down Under - never before would the title championship have been decided at such an early point in the season. The recent one-two-three in Germany is not the only reason that Volkswagen goes into the event brimming with confidence: in 2014, Australia was the scene of Volkswagen's first ever one-two-three with the Polo R WRC. The crews will be familiar with roughly three quarters of the challenging gravel routes around Coffs Harbour in the state of New South Wales from last year's event. In total, they must complete 311.36 kilometres against the clock, spread over 17 special stages.

"We obviously want to take the momentum our home win has given us to Australia, although the conditions will be completely different Down Under," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. "For this reason, we will once again be fully focussed as we pursue our goals at the Rally Australia, for which we have prepared meticulously again: we would like to wrap up all three titles with races to come ? and we have a realistic chance of doing just that. In each competition, we must defend the lead we have established so far. However, that is not as simple as it sounds. We will have to do another perfect job in order to emerge successful. If we do produce another flawless performance, then there is a good chance we will have something special to celebrate in Australia."

What if - the Drivers and Co-Drivers' World Championship

The lead currently stands at 93 points - Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia hold their destiny in their own hands as they aim for their third WRC title in a row in the Drivers' and Co-Drivers' Championship. For this dream to come true in Australia, they must maintain a lead of at least 84 points over Latvala/Anttila and Mikkelsen/Floene. Only the three Volkswagen driver/co-driver pairings can still mathematically be crowned champions in 2015. They can afford to lose no more than nine points to Latvala/Anttila - should Latvala win, second place and a bonus point from the Power Stage would suffice for Ogier. Should they finish ahead of Latvala/Anttila, the title is theirs. Given the fact that they currently trail the leaders by 109 points, the chances of Mikkelsen/Floene winning the title are more mathematical than realistic.

What if - the Manufacturers' World Championship

Of the 139-point lead going into the Rally Australia, 129 must still be intact after the event for Volkswagen to wrap up its third Manufacturers' title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in a row. Victory for either Jari-Matti Latvala or Sebastien Ogier would be sufficient to defend this lead - or, should closest rivals Hyundai win in Australia, second and fourth place for the two cars would also be good enough.

Wild, Wilder, Rally Australia - the special stages in New South Wales

"Newry", "Nambucca" and "Wedding Bells" - the Australian stages are a unique feature on the World Rally Championship calendar. "Wild by nature" is the slogan selected by the organisers of this season's tenth rally. The character of the stages change from expansive, flowing high-speed passages on open terrain to narrow, winding sections through thick forest. The hard surface is also covered by a loose layer of fine sand. As such, the set-up for the cars will be somewhere between those used in Mexico and Finland.

However, this is not the only thing that makes the Rally Australia so special. The "Valla" special stage at the end of Saturday's racing is a 7.94-kilometre night stage and will be broadcast live on TV and plus.wrc.com. "Wedding Bells" will also be shown live and forms the closing Power Stage, which could play a key role in the race for the Drivers' and Co-Drivers' titles. 28.6 per cent of the special stages are new territory for the drivers in 2015, with the Friday in particular requiring them to adapt to new routes in the form of "Utungun", "Northbank" and "Bakers Creek".

Express trip Down Under - three Polo R WRC fit and ready for the Australian spring

There are just three weeks between the Rally Germany and the Rally Australia - a tight schedule, given that one WRC round is right on the doorstep and the other demands the longest trip on the World Championship calendar. The three Polo R WRC for Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen needed to be ready to commence their journey to the fifth continent by air on the Wednesday after their home rally. That left only a few days to prepare the chassis, which were most recently in action at the Rally Finland. The logistics team completed an important part of the preparations back at the Rally Argentina. From there, the recce cars and equipment headed directly to Australia as ocean freight - cleaned and dusted thoroughly, as Australian import regulations are particularly strict. In total, roughly 100 tons were packed off on a voyage around the world, of which 18 tons were air freight.

Quotes ahead of the Rally Australia

Sebastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
"I love the Rally Australia. It is a very special event. As it is an overseas rally, there is a little less hustle and bustle than at Volkswagen's home race in Germany, for example. It is a bit more intimate, and I like that. Furthermore, the special stages in Australia are very nice to drive. Always have a lot of fun in the car. Last year it was a great duel between Jari-Matti Latvala and me, and we were ultimately separated by just 6.8 seconds. I expect more thrilling battles with my team-mates again this year. We head Down Under on the back of a perfect team result. The Rally Germany was absolutely fantastic and definitely one of the highlights of the season. We obviously want to follow that with the next highlight. The main goal for the season is obviously to defend our titles. We have another match point in Australia. As well as the Manufacturers' Championship with Volkswagen, we can also wrap up the titles in the Drivers' and Co-Drivers' championships with races still to come. We will do our best to achieve this - ideally with a perfect team result."

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
"The Rally Australia is unique. The forests, the harbour, and the whole atmosphere. It is more reminiscent of a vacation - but it obviously won't be a holiday for the team and me. Sure, we will acclimatise a bit in Coffs Harbour and the surrounding area ahead of the rally. However, when we get down to the serious business we have to be, and will be, wide-awake and fully focussed. I like the fast, flowing special stages in Australia - particularly the combination of wide and narrow roads through the forest and on open ground. It is a bit like the Rally Finland and, as is well-known, that really suits me. On other sections, you are flat-out close to large trees. I really like that too. But you have to be careful: the surface is different to in the European forests. The car must have the perfect set-up. In Australia, you need a car set-up somewhere between the Rally Mexico and the Rally Finland. We have good reference values, which we will use. I am very confident about Australia. Last year it was very tight between Sebastien Ogier and me, and my goal for this year is to be up there challenging for the win again."

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
"After the successful Rally Germany, we are back on gravel with the Polo ? and I am really looking forward to it. The Rally Australia is one of my favourite rallies. I like the special stages and the different challenges. For example, there are a lot of blind corners in the forests. They demand a lot of feel for the car on the one hand, and a big portion of courage on the other. It is far from easy, and even a small mistake can ruin your entire rally. Last year, Australia produced the first one-two-three for Volkswagen. That was a fantastic team result and showed just how competitive we are Down Under. I was very happy with third place. Ola and I set some very good times, so I am definitely confident. I have a good chance of winning my first WRC Rally in Australia. That remains a goal, which I would like to achieve sooner rather than later. So, bring it on!"

News from the Volkswagen team

+++ A new head mechanic for Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene: Yari Mitschinelli takes over this job as of the Rally Australia for the pair currently third in the World Championship. Mitschinelli has been working as a mechanic for the duo for the past three years in the WRC. Artur Wronski, who was the Norwegians? previous head mechanic and won the Rally Dakar with Volkswagen, will take over the management of the test team in the future. +++

+++ There will be a one-off change of head mechanics for Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila at the Rally Australia. Latvala and Anttila?s Polo R WRC will be serviced by Artur Wronski and their regular mechanics for the one race Down Under. Jose Azevedo, who has been a loyal servant of Latvala/Anttila for many years, is unable to make it Australia for a very good reason. He has had to remain in Portugal for the christening of his nephew, to whom he is also godfather. +++

The number for the Rally Australia: 76.9 per cent

Volkswagen travels to Australia with fond memories. Last year the team secured the Manufacturers' title in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in Coffs Harbour, with races still to come. They could achieve the same feat in 2015 - and, in doing so, equal last year's record. Back then, Volkswagen was crowned champion manufacturer after 10 of 13 rallies - the earliest the title had been decided in WRC history. The round Down Under is once again the tenth of 13 races in 2015.

DMACK Backs Pedder For Home Rally Run

Posted: September 4, 2015 2:45 PM

DMACK heads down under next week for Coates Hire Rally Australia ? the event where the Drive DMACK team sealed its first-ever FIA World Rally Championship title last year. The squad was crowned WRC 2 Teams Champions in 2014 and is aiming for continued success this time around with the top local driver joining its ranks.

Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt, the top seeded Australian crew, are aiming for a strong performance on their home round of the world series and have targeted a podium finished in WRC 2.

The pair have clocked up some serious air miles this season as part of their WRC 2 campaign and are hoping for home advantage on the demanding gravel stages around Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast. They will drive an M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta R5 in their bid to chase a season-best finish.

As the third and final long-haul event of the season, the rally is both tough and complex. Operationally DMACK has shipped its bespoke fitting container, which is kitted out with the machines and equipment needed to supply gravel tyres for competitors. The latest DMG+2 tyres have flown direct from its factory ready for the challenge of next week.

The race is held over roads covered in loose stones and renowned for being ultra-slippery and dusty in the dry. But, if wet, the conditions change dramatically with muddy and treacherously slimy surfaces creating extreme conditions.

The varied character of the event's stages also pose a complex challenge - one minute cars can be threading their way along tight and twisty tracks deep in the rainforest, the next they can be flat-out over fast and flowing roads in open countryside.

DMACK has nominated the hard compound S3 as first choice for the rally, with the softer S6 available should conditions turn wet or cold.

Rally Australia is once again based at Coffs Harbour, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, and features a compact itinerary. Friday?s high-speed shire road stages are based to the south with a loop of four tests repeated.

Only four stages await teams on Saturday but the huge 50.80km Nambucca test around the town of Bowraville will be the biggest challenge of the weekend. Sunday finishes with five stages to the north of Coffs Harbour including the Wedding Bells power stage.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: "Rally Australia holds fond memories as the event where we celebrated our first world title. We return again next week with the top local driver and I?m sure Scott will put up a performance to please the home fans. Australia is a difficult event, with the weather at this time of year a little unknown, but I?m confident our tyres can cope well with all conditions."

Scott Pedder said: "The motivation for your home rally is always higher than others and Coates Hire Rally Australia is a world class event with some fantastic roads, we have a lot of home town support. We can certainly be in with a chance for a podium in WRC 2 here and if we can get into a good rhythm and pace from the start, perhaps we can be challenging for the win. Our plan is to just drive our own race and hope that it is good enough against a strong field of regional rally cars."

Entry List

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